St. Peter, Minn. – Gustavus Adolphus sophomore goalkeeper Brett Ylonen (Lake Elmo, Minn.) has been named the MIAC Men’s Soccer Athlete-of-the-Week after his stellar performances in Gustavus’ two MIAC playoff victories over St. Thomas and Carleton this past week. The Co-MIAC Champion Gusties defeated St. Thomas 1-0 on Tuesday before winning the MIAC Playoff Championship in a shootout 7-6 over Carleton on Saturday. Over Gustavus’ two post-season contests, Ylonen did not allow a goal in 200 minutes of regulation soccer.
“Brett truly deserves the award – he works like a Trojan,” said Head Coach Mike Middleton. “Every day the goalkeepers are out nearly an hour before everyone else, and boy, do they love to work. He is really pushed by the other keepers Tom Schleusener, Al Pinto, and Braden Schmid. Brett is so good because of them – he cannot drop his standards for a second.”
The sophomore’s week began with his best outing of the season in the Gusties opening round playoff match against St. Thomas. In a performance worth its weight in gold according to Mike Middleton after the match, Ylonen made a season-best eight saves on the way to his sixth complete-game shutout and 14th win of the year. Two of his eight saves came on what appeared to be golden scoring chances from St. Thomas’ leading scorer Nick Rapisarda, including one that came inside the final minute of the match that preserved the one goal victory and berth into the MIAC Playoff Championship.
In Saturday’s championship game at Carleton, Ylonen stopped both shots that made their way to the net through 110 minutes of regulation play. Following two sessions of overtime, the match went into a penalty kick shootout. After the first six players from both teams found the back of the net, Zach Brown (So., Eau Claire, Wis.) put the Gusties up 7-6 after scoring on his try. On the ensuing attempt, Ylonen came up with a sprawling save to his right, deflecting the ball wide of the net to give the Gusties an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
“Brett’s save in the penalty shootout was top-class,” commented Middleton. “A stunning save worthy of a team being crowned Playoff Champion, and a trophy to go alongside Brett’s regular season crown. A product of the very successful Stillwater High School, and the excellent St. Croix soccer club – we are very lucky to have him at Gustavus. We are very proud of him of course, and delighted for him. Needless to say, I am pleased as punch of his achievements.”
Ylonen enters the NCAA Tournament at 14-2-2 overall with an .892 save percentage and a 0.47 goals against average. Over the last month dating back to a 2-0 win over Bethel on Oct. 5, Brett Ylonen has simply refused to be beaten. The Lake Elmo product has totaled 23 saves and has gone 8-0-0 within that time frame. His 14 wins is the most by a Gustavus since Trevor Brown had 13 in 2007.
Along with his tireless work ethic, Middleton credits Ylonen’s success to his soft hands, great reflexes, and athleticism. “They say that top keepers do not reach maturity until their late twenties – mainly due to consistency – but he is very consistent now. His decision-making is first class, he has great presence, and he dominates the box. He has it all.”
With an overall record of 15-2-2, Gustavus will take on UW-Platteville in the first round of the NCAA Playoffs on Saturday in Northfield, Minn., as Carleton will host the four-team regional and will face Carrol in Saturday’s other match. The two winners will meet Sunday in the second round.